More than 67 years have passed since the establishment of the first concentration camps in Bulgaria, and 27 years since the democratic changes. And yet, there are no places for commemoration of the people, who were repressed or killed during the communist era. The then governments, born from fascist and communist ideologies, have thrown in these almost 100 camps, most of which are now abandoned and forgotten, more than 300 000 people – Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Protestants, Muslims, partisans, communists, fascists, democrats, liberals, anarchists, politicians, writers, artists, musicians, workers, leaders, men, women, Bulgarian and foreign citizens. Thousands of lost lives, enormous suffering, wasted human destinies – dark spots in Bulgarian history that should be known and remembered.
Long ago, right after the democratic changes, the other ex-socialist countries announced their places for commemoration. People there speak, write, teach and remember their history.
They have not forgotten the victims of this bygone era. At these places they read the objective truth about the times past, times that should never be repeated, because every human life is precious and should not be lost. Unfortunately, the country that seems to have forgotten its martyrs and sufferers (excluding the several memorial plaques), the country that has indebted itself to its citizens and to the memory of the innocents victims, is ours.
On April 26th, 2014, 65 years after the opening of the Belene Concentration Camp, we instituted the Belene Island Committee – independent non-profit civil structure with no economic or political interests. In early 2016 we transformed it into the Belene Island Foundation. We have no political affiliations; we are neither in the left nor in the right political spectrum, neither blue nor red. We are not politicians, we are Bulgarians.
The main objects of the foundation are:
- Creating a Memorial Park at the Second Site of the Belene Concentration Camp. The camp was located on the Persin Island and was the biggest labor camp for prisoners, considered politically dangerous by the communist government. It was established by the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1949;
- Creating a Memorial Museum in the town of Belene for the victims of the totalitarian regime;
- Investigating and organizing of historical documentation and evidence concerning labor and concentration camps on the territory of Bulgaria between 1940 and 1990.